Studying the Immortal Jellyfish Could Lead to Discoveries About Aging

After reaching maturity, the immortal deep-sea jellyfish known as Turritopsis dohrnii reverts to a juvenile stage and repeats its life cycle. In oceans across the globe, this tiny jellyfish species displays its remarkable death-defying abilities every day. The way it goes back to a juvenile stage would be similar to a butterfly turning back into a caterpillar and metamorphosing again into a butterfly after that. Because this deep-sea creature repeats its life cycle indefinitely, it’s earned itself the nickname “The Immortal Jellyfish.”

Studying the Immortal Jellyfish Could Lead to Discoveries About AgingTurritopsis Dohrnii Has the Remarkable Trait of Being Immortal

While scientists have known about this species and its ability to stay alive for nearly 20 years, a new study has looked at the animal’s genes to determine how it stays immortal. In the paper, a team of researchers mapped the genetic sequence of the jellyfish, showing key molecular mechanisms responsible for the rejuvenation of Turritopsis dohrnii. The researchers have pointed out that their work could promote further research into improving the health of aging humans and fighting aging altogether.

The Immortal Turritopsis Dohrnii Could Succumb to a Predator

Like most jellyfish, the immortal Turritopsis dohrnii begins life as a free-floating larva until it finds a hard surface to attach to. There, it matures into a branching, plant-like polyp, and multiple young jellyfish bud off to turn into medusae or the adults of the species. However, when an adult immortal jellyfish is damaged, instead of dying, it absorbs its tentacles to become a blob and settles on the sea floor where it becomes a new polyp, which can form more medusae. This means that while Turritopsis dohrnii may succumb to a predator, it cannot die of old age.

The new study compared Turritopsis dohrnii to Turritopsis rubra, which are related species. Compared to its relative, the immortal jellyfish has double the amount of genes to repair and protect its DNA. This allows it to produce more restorative proteins. There are also differences in other genes, including those associated with stem cell population and replication. The mutations of Turritopsis dohrnii allow it to preserve its telomeres that protect the end of a chromosome. These differences seem to be key to the jellyfish’s immortality.

Researching the Immortal Jellyfish Could Lead to Discoveries About Aging

According to researchers, this new finding could help humans with their battle against aging. While it’s unlikely humans can use the same mechanism to gain immortality, scientists could likely come up with better answers to many diseases associated with aging. By better understanding the immortal jellyfish and its genes, humans could be inspired to come up with new regenerative medicine.

A Hair-Style Archaeologist Recreates the Hairdos of Ancient Rome

While it is rather easy to look back on old fashions and hairstyles with a critical eye, one woman is more intrigued by the process of creating ancient hairstyles. Janet Stephens, a self-professed hair-style archaeologist, asks how did ancient women make their hair.

Janet Stephens Is a Hair Dresser and a Hair-Style Archaeologist

A Hair-Style Archaeologist Recreates the Hairdos of Ancient Rome

While her daily job is to be a hairdresser in Baltimore, Janet Stephens has a second calling. Her time spent giving people layers and funky bobs made her wonder how women made their hair in ancient cultures, so she endeavored to recreate the hairstyles of ancient Rome. She started her own YouTube channel where she now boasts all types of ancient hairstyles, from that of the Empress Plotina to Cleopatra’s coin hair, making her something like a hair-style archaeologist.

Janet’s First Hair-Style Recreation Was That of Empress Julia Domna

Her first foray into YouTube was two years ago when Janet recreated the empress Julia Domna’s hair using tools that Romans at the time would have had. But, Stephens does more than just recreate ancient hair-style fashion for YouTube. She also publishes her research in papers for scientific journals. One of those was called “Ancient Roman hairdressing: on (hair) pins and needles.” It described the difficulties of recreating Roman hairdos and the tools required to do so.

Roman Empress Julia Domna's hairstyle

Many historians had assumed that the gravity-defying curls, bumps, and buns of hairstyles from ancient times were just wigs. However, Stephens never quite bought into the wig theory. Through trial and error, she managed to achieve the ancient hairstyle by sewing the braids and bits with a needle. She then dug deeper into fashion and art history books to find references to stitching. Sure enough, in 2005, she had a breakthrough while studying translations of Roman literature.

She concluded that the Latin term ‘acus’ was being misunderstood when it comes to hairdressing. It has several meanings, and while translators generally go with hairpin, it could also mean a single-prong hairpin or needle and thread. Since then, many journals have recognized Janet’s expertise.